5G Frequency Waves ExplainedOn March 26, 2022 by Jan
Wireless electronic devices use specific types of radio frequencies in order to work. These radio waves carry signals back and forth between the device and the network service provider.
These frequencies can be measured in units known as hertz (Hz). Hz are commonly classified in multiples: kilohertz ( 103 Hz, kHz), megahertz (106 Hz, MHz), gigahertz (109 Hz, GHz), terahertz (1012 Hz, THz).
These units measure the cycle of time in an electronic device. It is used to describe the clock speeds at which computers and other electronics are driven.
Common household devices usually use radio waves that are under 6GHz. However, network service providers have seen an unprecedented explosion in device and data usage from end-users around the globe, and they are struggling to cater for this.
Because they do not have access to the higher frequency bands that allow faster connection speeds. So a simple solution would be to open up some new frequency waves, right?
Well, it’s not that simple.
The promise of 5G was a solution to this issue. Scientists experimented with opening up the higher frequency waves (those types of waves that fall between 30 and 300 GHz) and using these higher frequency waves (also known as mmWaves) to transmit signals and data. They found the speed to be unbeatable.
However, the rate at which more additional devices are going online is faster than the rate it will take to fully construct a 5G network architecture to fulfill this promise and use these mmWaves. For now, we will have to sit tight and be patient as we experience slower service from our network providers.
Here’s a breakdown of the 2 types of 5G frequency waves.
FR1 – 410 MHz to 7125 MHz (Sub 6 GHz)
This is the frequency wave that is available today. This frequency band is classified as a low and mid frequency band. Low-band frequencies experience less than 1GHz, and mid-band frequencies experience 1-7 GHz.
Many service providers are restructuring their network infrastructure to support the mid-band and high-band frequencies.
Although these are being used today, the speeds are still not enough. These speeds do not fulfill the 5G promise and can be limiting for some bandwidth-intensive applications, such as virtual reality applications and cloud-based gaming.
FR2 – 24.25 GHz to 52.6 GHz (Beyond 6 GHz)
This frequency band is the soft spot, and it is able to transmit mmWave bands, starting from 30 GHz. This is the frequency band that will be able to fulfill the promise of 5G’s speed.
The downside with this higher frequency band is the limit in which it can travel. As these frequency waves are higher, they cannot travel as far as low-band frequency waves, which means additional hardware accessories are needed for signal strength. This can come in the form of multiple nodes (also known as small cells) being installed and dispersed everywhere throughout a city.
This frequency band is not available to be used today. There are two types of deployment options for 5G: non-standalone cellular towers and standalone 5G cellular towers.
Non-standalone deployments involve network service providers modifying 4G core cellular towers and enabling them to use new 5G radios to provide fast data to the end-user. These are the deployments that are occurring today, as they involve modifying infrastructure that already exists. Although they have helped achieve faster connection speeds, they cannot achieve the true potential of 5G.
Standalone deployments on the other hand, are harder to deploy as they involve creating completely new cellular base towers with a 5G core architecture integrated. These standalone 5G towers will have the new radios and technology to use the mmWave frequencies. These standalone towers are the foundation of a fully functioning 5G architecture.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, 5G uses two types of frequencies: FR1 – 410 MHz to 7125 MHz (Sub 6 GHz) and FR2 – 24.25 GHz to 52.6 GHz (Beyond 6 GHz).
The FR1 frequency can be used today, as current network providers have the adequate infrastructure in place. You may need to check with your service provider to see if 5G is available in your city.
However, these speeds are not the true potential of 5G. This can only be achieved through the use of the FR2 frequency range. But FR2 cannot be used today, as the construction of enough standalone 5G cellular base stations still needs to take place.
How do you feel about 5G? Do you think the use of FR2 is necessary? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below!